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Illinois police officer pleaded for her life before she was fatally shot with her own gun, prosecutors say

The Kankakee County state's attorney is asking federal prosecutors to pursue the death penalty for two suspects in the killing of Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic.

A police officer in Bradley, Illinois, pleaded for her life before she was fatally shot with her own gun at a hotel last week, prosecutors said.

Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe shared new details of Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic's last moments Monday, saying he is asking federal prosecutors to pursue the death penalty for Darius Sullivan, 25, and Xandria Harris, 26, who have been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.

Image: Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic
Bradley, Ill., Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic.Bradley Police Dept.

Rittmanic, 49, was fatally shot and her partner, Officer Tyler Bailey, was critically injured after they responded to a call at a Comfort Inn in Bradley, about 60 miles south of Chicago, on Dec. 29. The call was about dogs barking in an unattended vehicle in the parking lot.

The officers found the possible owners of the vehicle in a room in the hotel and talked to them from outside the door. The subjects stepped out of the room and shot both officers, Bradley police said in a statement.

Rowe revealed at Harris’ bond hearing Monday that Sullivan emerged from the hotel room with a 9 mm handgun, NBC Chicago reported.

Sullivan pointed the gun and shot Bailey in the head and then turned the gun on Rittmanic and shot her as she tried to run away, Rowe alleged.

Rowe alleged that Sullivan chased Rittmanic down the hallway, pinned her against the door and tried simultaneously to unjam his gun and to disarm Rittmanic. Rowe accused Harris of helping him successfully disarm Rittmanic.

The pair stood over Rittmanic as she was wounded on the floor, pointing their guns at her, Rowe alleged.

“Sgt. Rittmanic was pleading with them to ‘just leave, you don’t have to do this, please just go, please don’t, please don’t,’” Rowe said. 

“She was desperately pleading for her life,” he said. 

Sullivan then fired two shots from what prosecutors said they believe was Rittmanic’s gun, hitting Rittmanic in the neck area, Rowe alleged.

Harris handed Sullivan keys and told him, “You have to go,” and he fled, Rowe said. She then went back to the hotel room, gathered her belongings and her two children, who were in the room, and fled, he said. 

Rowe said that Rittmanic died later that evening and that Bailey remains in the hospital, “fighting for his life.”

Sullivan was arrested Friday after authorities with a warrant searched a home in North Manchester, Indiana, according to Indiana State Police. Harris also turned herself into the Bradley Police Department on Friday, Illinois State Police said.

Sullivan is charged with six counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery with a firearm. Harris is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

No lawyers for Sullivan or Harris were listed online Tuesday.

Harris was denied bail Monday and remains in the custody of the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department. Sullivan remains in the custody of Indiana law enforcement.

Sullivan refused to waive extradition to Illinois. Rowe said his office is seeking a governor’s warrant to have him return to Illinois to face charges.

Rowe announced Monday that his office filed state charges against Sullivan and Harris of first-degree murder of a police officer and attempted first-degree murder of a police officer. He said that the state charges will proceed in Kankakee County Court and that his office will seek life sentences.

He also submitted a request to the U.S. attorney general and the U.S. attorney for Central Illinois to review the cases for federal murder charges and to pursue federal deaths sentences. 

Although Illinois is not a death penalty state, the attorney general can authorize filing petitions to seek the death penalty in federal murder cases, Rowe said, citing legal precedent and "the nature of the offenses."

"Our state’s attorney’s office will now work to ensure these offenders face the harshest justice the law allows, no matter the jurisdiction, and to ensure that the full weight of the criminal justice system is brought to bear upon them and anyone who assisted them," he said.

Both cases will go before a Kankakee County grand jury this month. Harris is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 27.